Local Heart, Global Soul

May 30, 2018

Delightful, Beautiful, Charming…

Filed under: NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY,WELLINGTON — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

There are many buildings in Wellington, New Zealand that give us an instant look into our past.

Weatherboard houses, small neighbourhood shops with verandas, stone pubs or civic buildings with beautiful decorative elements used to be the norm.

They extended into the very heart of the city; but time passed, tastes, technology changed, “materialism and consumerism” erupted and suddenly far bigger shops were needed to display these goods.

In the remaining little shops many of the stone decorative elements (stone balconies lining the shop front roof for example) are long since removed because they posed earthquake danger, many of these beautiful little buildings were removed to make way for department stores, pedestrian arcades of shops and on occasion further into the future; malls.

In the Wellington suburbs I managed to capture a little bit of “original Wellington”, delightful, beautiful, charming and ornate buildings, which I can only hope survive the onslaught of “progress”.

The message on the side of the first building says: “You are a guest of nature -Behave” It’s a message we should remind ourselves of daily.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

January 27, 2016

Lights In The Darkness Growing Green For The People…

Filed under: ICELAND,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , ,

One of the things that we learned earlier on in our trip to Iceland was that ninety-eight percent of all energy here is geothermally generated. We learned that energy here is cheap and abundant and that all homes and businesses are able to take advantage of this plentiful green resource. Of course we also see plenty of evidence of geothermal activity: signs for natural hot pools abound and we see steam rising in some areas as natural vents are close to the surface. Whilst we knew these facts it was still a surprise to see many brilliantly lit greenhouses in the darkness, places that use this abundance of energy to grow fresh produce for the Icelandic population. If only veggies could be grown this “greenly” in the rest of the world.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

June 6, 2014

An Awful Idea… Or Rather Brilliant?

Filed under: PHOTOGRAPHY,THE NETHERLANDS,Traditionally Dutch — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , ,
(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

All around Europe, supermarkets are full of fresh fruit and vegetables, a good proportion of which have probably been grown in Dutch glasshouses.

Many flowers in shops around the world also possibly originated in one of the glass houses too, so intensive agriculture under glass is a massive industry in the Netherlands.

Sadly our country doesn’t  have a Mediterranean climate so the rapidly shortening days of autumn and the ever cooler temperatures of the approaching winter mean that not only are these glass houses  very brightly lit with row after row of  electric lights, but they are  very well heated as well.

As we drive home though some of back-roads via the Westland area,  (one of the most prolific areas of glasshouses in South Holland) we pass by row after row of glass houses.

At this time of year the lights need to be put on fairly early in the afternoon and as we drive by it’s like an early Christmas light display on steroids… I lost count of how many of these we passed by… so here’s a bad pun: is these buildings an awful idea… or rather brilliant?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

 

 

 

September 2, 2013

A Stunning Thatch On Top, With Just a Hint of Weave…

Filed under: ENGLAND,Great Dunmow,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , ,
(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Another page in my last summer’s diary as we travelled to England.

We were now back in the village of Great Dunmow having earlier dropped off our Singaporean friend “Velvetine” at the train station so that she could meet up with some former colleagues and friends in central London.

We would meet up with her again later on, but on the meantime I had noticed that Great Dunmow had more than a decent share of beautiful thatched houses, so asked Himself if we could drive around the town so that I could photograph some of them.

He and the kids amused themselves nibbling at a picnic lunch whilst they waited for longer at a few stops whilst I happily took photos.

I’m amazed at how some of the patterns along the top can be so deftly done that straw starts to look more like lace…  and how beautifully even some of the scalloped effect trims were made.Thatching turns out to be a far more intricate process than I first imagined, there are beautiful patterns and different styles, and whether atop a newer style building or an obviously older one, it certainly looks stunning. It is however rather amusing to see a beautifully thatched and clearly historic building with the name of “The Queen Victoria” now occupied by an Indian Restaurant…  does that make it fusion building as well as fusion cooking?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 24, 2012

A Humble Abode…

The best thing about staying awake and looking out the window of the coach is that you get a see the sights of a country new to you, that build up a picture of what’s life’s like for ordinary people. I live contrasts… the are general buildings that house businesses, a mosque with a dome and the humble abodes of ordinary people.  Look out the window of the bus with me and take the photo tour.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

November 6, 2011

Get a Square Peg into a Round Hole? …These Towerhouses Prove It CAN Be Done!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The small Dutch town of Leerdam grew over the centuries and earned the right to be called a city in 1407.  Situated on the meeting points of the Rivers Leede and Linge, Leerdam was ruled by local Counts of Leerdam (the “Vijfheerenlanden”) but the region achieved official “County” status in 1498.

The beginnings of the city are thought to have been formed around the 11th or 12th century along with a castle owned by the Lords of Arkel.

The castle incorporated part of the city walls into it’s structure but was separated from the town by a moat.

William of Orange inherited the County of Leerdam in 1557 and he also became the new owner of the castle as part of his inheritance.

in 1574 the town and the castle were besieged by Spanish forces during the “80 Years War” and was destroyed, along with vast sections of the city walls.

Sections of the former castle walls were used to rebuild new city walls but the remaining sections of the castle became a ruin, until in 1770 a “hofje” (almshouse)  for poor young women and widows was built atop of the castle foundations.

The hofje is called ‘Hofje van Aerden’  and is now a museum. During restoration in the 1970’s, original castle wall fragments dating back to 1300 were discovered at the site.

Larger sections of the city walls have been restored over the centuries  and three tower houses were built on the foundations of earlier  wall towers in 1738.

One theory for their shape is:  the bases of the tower houses are round because  a round foundation is a stronger defensive structure than a square one, but I secretly wonder if they weren’t just getting heartily sick of the idea of piling and re-piling up stones at some point and  thought, ” let’s see if we can get this square  house to sit on  the round foundation that’s already there, then we won’t need all the hard work of taking the old stones away, just to rebuild them straight away in a different shape!

Either way, I’m guessing there aren’t too many houses in the world that sport a square house on a round foundation?

Just proves you CAN get a  square peg into a round hole if you try hard enough.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 20, 2011

When Shopping “Local” is an Ethical Dilemma…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Yes, I know I’ve done a blog post on glass-houses before… but I was having an interesting conversation with a friend last week about food miles/kilometres and trying to eat as organically and environmentally friendly as possible and the subject of  glass-house growing came up.

With green beans in the supermarket from Kenya and other produce coming in from all over the world the answer appears to be simple: shop for seasonal veggies as close to home as possible. Right?

Wrong: it’s not that simple.  The Netherlands is Europe’s biggest producer/exporter of cuccumbers, beans, strawberries, tomatoes, paprika peppers etc, the list of veggies is massive.  The Netherlands is also located in sunny (err not!)  northern Europe so even good summer weather is something of a gamble. (today’s  summer trip in the pouring rain being a prime case to illustrate my point).

To solve the problem of wanting to farm intensively but not being able to bank on good weather the Dutch, well known for their habit of battening down  Mother Nature very tightly,  have ingeniously become world leaders in high density glass-house growing.

The biggest problem is constant available light, (an heat to a lesser degree)  and to get around that, they simply power up these glass-houses with  artificial lighting.  The energy consumption to run it all on an industrial scale is eye-watering and mind boggling. The technology involved is impressive.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I once sat next to a glass-house technology specialist on the plane back to NZ (via the USA) and he told me that their clients fly him out to the States at least six times a year to install, repair and maintain the specialised Dutch technology that’s been exported to America companies that use their glass-houses.

A programme on the BBC a few months ago looked at the ethics of food miles/kilometres and asked if food really should travel all the way from places like Kenya to our supermarkets in Europe.  Intriegely enough they actually took The Netherlands as the “local’ option  for comparison because the Dutch grow so much produce for Europe.

The Results were very interesting  and thought provoking.

They took into consideration many factors, the importance of the industry to the local economy in both cases (as a percentage) and the carbon footprint of the end result.

Since the Kenyan produce was grown in natural sunlight, it amazingly had a lighter carbon footprint than the Dutch food that travelled far less distance, simply because of the sheer amount of  energy required to produce the crop in the Netherlands.

So if you want to shop for “green” produce then buying  “locally” in my case raises some tough ethical questions.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Space in The Netherlands is limited so by using artificial light they push out more crops thoughout the year too, but at what cost to the planet?

Growers supply what the customers want and customers demand tomatoes  and red peppers in the middle of winter because it’s convenient and we have the technology to do it,  but once you start the process of this “variety” (however artificial and unnatural it actually is) people quickly get used to having it and don’t want to return to the days where they are limited to the same seasonal five or six veggies for five months of cold dark boring winter.

… so we as customers, are all responsible for the growing and ever steady trend of  having everything we want on demand all year round.

I suppose it comes down to the ethical conundrum of “just because we can technically achieve it,  does it mean we really should?”

We are trying to eat in a more “seasonal”  and organic fashion, but I’m the first to admit that spicing up our diet with some fruit and veggies from far off places is a temptation I simply can’t resist some days. My next challenge to how to make our meals more eco-friendly whilst keeping some variety at the same time.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

May 1, 2011

Cubist, … Inside and Out.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Another post from my archive photographs as I take you on a tour of Rotterdam.

Himself and I were there last summer, and going past these houses reminds me that we need to return sometime so that we can take a closer look at these.

Arguably they are the most photographed houses in Rotterdam, and they are called the “Kubuswoningen” (Cube / Cubist houses) .

This time I had to make do with a few quick shots through the bus window whilst we waited at the traffic lights.

Designed by the  Dutch architect Piet Blom, these ones were built in Rotterdam in 1984 in the Overblaakstraat.

The Cube Houses instantly became a tourist attraction and people living in them quickly discovered that they were the focus of a lot of unwanted attention  both day and night as tourists tried to get a glimpse inside.

One of the house owners had a brainwave, bought a second home in the complex, furnished it and opened it to the public  as a “show home” so that they may take a tour inside one. It was such a successful idea that not only did he solve the privacy problem from himself and his neighbours, but he also he makes a living from it.

As part of our desire  to be tourists in our own country, and get to know “local stuff”  in our own province better,  once I am mobile again this is a tourist attraction we aim to return to with the children for a decent second look, …. and of course do the tour.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

July 17, 2009

Cool design, check out these windows…

I adore quirky architecture , I like anything that isn’t boxy and characterless… I love nooks, crannies and attention to detail…. I’m starting a new photo collection of places I come across that capture my imagination. It will be a work-in-progress and I will post them here as I go….

Windows  (photo © Kiwidutch)

Windows (photo © Kiwidutch)

(photo © Kiwidutch)

(photo © Kiwidutch)

Obviously there is a staircase (or two) behind these windows, … with quirkiness like this on the outside I can only imagine and indeed hope that the inside is half as good…

..and the ornamentation on this building and balcony is just gorgeous.  Can you maybe tell that I’m not a gal that you would find living in a super modern, open plan, minimalist, fluorescent, brightly coloured, plastic and chrome home? Give me wood, stone, quarry tile, rustic brick, and intricate patterns in cast iron any day.

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